Enigmatic Horodyskia williamsi from Precambrian Australia
of the Multicellular Fossils
Time: Mesoproterozoic (1.4 Billion years ago)
mm = 1 inch): Each individual is some 2 mm across; Clusters are 30 mm,
25 mm and 17 mm across on a 60 mm by 160 mm matrix
Backdoor Formation, Western Australia
Some 30 years ago the late Robert J Horodyski discovered what
he termed “problematic bedding plane markings” in
Precambrian deposits in Glacier National Park of Montana. These
were later found to be the remains of what are currently the
oldest known multicellular organisms named Horodyskia moniliformis
in his honor. In addition to those found at Glacier National
Park, this species found in Australia is also known to science.
Horodyski called them a string of beads” a most apt description.
They appear to have been attached by a stolon (the “string”)
and had a regular position along the chain. Given the presumed
nutrient-poor water in which they lived they are thought to have
been photosynthetic like the stromatolites. Here is a chance
to obtain what is currently believed to be the earliest of multicellular
organisms to have colonized the planet. This is a collection
of three colonies. It is presumed as each colony aged it became
longer. The longest I have had was some 65 mm across.
Smithsonian Institution Press Contributions to Paleontology,
no 94, 202.
click stromatolites pictures